Tobacco use can be found in nearly every culture throughout the world and is ever increasing in China and in many third world countries. Most often tobacco is smoked, but it can be chewed (though not swallowed) as the way to take in the nicotine content of the plant. What is it?
Tobacco is a natural plant cultivated in temperate and hot climates. Its leaves contain its most active ingredient: nicotine. Electronic cigarettes are the most recently-developed tobacco product. They heat rather than burn a nicotine solution and the vapor is inhaled.
Nicotine products produce slightly mood-altering effects for the smoker. It slightly stimulates and calms at the same time. People who smoke report doing so because they feel it relaxes them, makes them feel more focused, relieves stress, suppresses their appetite, gives them a feeling of maturity and self-confidence, helps them deal with other people and simply out of boredom.
Most often, a smoker's first cigarette is between the ages of 11-15 years of age and is accompanied by mild to moderate coughing and distaste. However, the sense of “feeling older" can offset the body’s initial rejection of smoke in the lungs and nicotine going to the brain.
The tobacco leaves themselves have more than 25 carcinogenic compounds, while the additives that the tobacco companies put in to “improve taste” include numerous natural and manmade toxic chemicals, some of which are also carcinogenic.
While each day there are about 1,000 teens and 1,800 adults who begin smoking, 75% of the current smokers report that they don't want to smoke! While we all know some older adults who have smoked for years, it is the ones we don’t see that are important: tobacco is responsible for about one in five deaths currently in the U.S.
- Breathing problems
- Increased coughs and colds
- Uncomfortable withdrawal with severe cravings
- Much greater odds of getting cancer of the lung, mouth, throat and tongue
- Increased incidence of heart disease
- Greater risk of strokes
- Premature death
How to Cut Down
Some people are able just to smoke every so often, while others can smoke for a brief period in their life and then quit. The majority of those who smoke or chew tobacco find quitting to be one of the most challenging things that they have ever had to do in their lives. Many things serve as triggers to pick up again.
Supportive programs can help people not impulsively seek tobacco again. Helpful strategies before setting a “stop date” are discovering healthier alternative ways to replace the payoffs they had when they smoked: ways to relax, concentrate, curb their appetite, change breathing patterns, reward themselves, deal with social anxiety, oral fixations and something to do with their hands when they are thinking or nervous. There are also a number of medications that, along with behavioral therapy, for some reduce the frequency and intensity of the cravings. Some use nicotine patches or gum as tools, along with some type of additional support to then stop the gum.
The following links may be helpful places to start: